user3897208 user3897208 - 26 days ago 5
Python Question

bbox_to_anchor and loc in matplotlib

I have come across matplotlib code which customizes legend loccation using keywords "loc" and "bbox_to_anchor". For example :

fig.legend([line1, line2], ['series1', 'series2'], bbox_to_anchor=[0.5, 0.5],
loc='center', ncol=2)

I have seen variation of above where "bbox_to_anchor" is used after "loc".

I understand the purpose of using "bbox_to_anchor" and "loc" separately. However, is there any benefit of using both in the same legend specification? From my understanding and usage, it appears to me that if "bbox_to_anchor" is specified, then the "loc" parameter is pretty much don't care.

Can anyone confirm this? I don't see any documentation regarding this.


When bbox_to_anchor and loc are used together, the loc argument will inform matplotlib which part of the bounding box of the legend should be placed at the arguments of bbox_to_anchor. For example (I've simplified the command a bit), the three options below will produce different locations for your legend,

 fig.legend([line1], ['series1'], bbox_to_anchor=[0.5, 0.5], loc='center')
 fig.legend([line1], ['series1'], bbox_to_anchor=[0.5, 0.5], loc='center left')
 fig.legend([line1], ['series1'], bbox_to_anchor=[0.5, 0.5], loc='center right')

The first command will put the center of the bounding box at axes coordinates 0.5,0.5. The second will put the center left edge of the bounding box at the same coordinates (i.e. shift the legend to the right). Finally, the third option will put the center right edge of the bounding box at the coordinates (i.e. shift the legend to the left).